Men’s basketball suffers worst conference loss in recent history

Kent+State+freshman+forward+BJ+Duling+dunks+off+a+pass+from+Jaylin+Walker+in+the+Flashes+64-63+win+over+Bowling+Green+on+Feb.+24%2C+2018%2C+at+the+M.A.C.+Center.+Both+of+Dulings+baskets+were+dunks.%C2%A0

Kent State freshman forward BJ Duling dunks off a pass from Jaylin Walker in the Flashes’ 64-63 win over Bowling Green on Feb. 24, 2018, at the M.A.C. Center. Both of Duling’s baskets were dunks. 

Ian Kreider

Kent State (12-4, 1-2 Mid-American Conference) struggled early and often to score due to a Eastern Michigan’s (8-8, 2-1 MAC) 3-2 zone trap that was incorporated early and often. 

The zone caused the Flashes to turn the ball over 13 times, while slowing their offense to 11 assists for the game. The Flashes are 0-3 when they finish with more turnovers than assists this season.

Jalen Avery, Kent State’s offensive catalyst finished with just six points on 2-for-8 shooting with three assists. He was unable to get to the line, and many possessions consisted of him standing at the top of the key, playing catch with other guards on the wing as the shot clock ticked away.

The zone also forced the Flashes into taking poor shots at the end of the shot clock . Senior guard Jaylin Walker finished with a team-high 14 points , most of which were scored when the game was out of reach. He finished just 4-for-13 from the field, including 3-for-9 from deep. He was one of two Kent State players to finish in double digits en route to the 95-61 loss.

The loss was the worst conference loss for Kent State under coach Rob Senderoff.

The Flashes held a 15-14 lead with 11:30 left in the first half, but it quickly became a distant memory heading into the midway point of the second half. Eastern Michigan opened up on a 12-1 run during the first 3:08 of the second half to take a 51-33 lead.

Eastern Michigan pulled away in large part due to their shooting from deep. They finished 12-for-19, which is their highest percentage of the season. They came into the game shooting just 27.7 percent from behind the arc.

The Flashes struggled to score in the paint, as they were outscored 34-18. Senior forward Phil Whittington seemed outmatched by the Eagles’ 6’10” center James Thompson IV, who finished with 18 points on 6-for-7 shooting, including three offensive rebounds and four blocks. He had four straight double-doubles coming into the game. Whittington finished with 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting, but was neutralized for most of the second half.

The Flashes will look to get back to even in conference play when they take on Ohio (9-6, 1-2 MAC) inside the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Bobcats are 7-1 at home this season.

 Ian Kreider is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected]